By Madison Kessler & Grace Main
West Hills Press
West Hills MS
1st Place Division MS, News Writing
News Analysis

JUDGING CRITERIA

  • Sharp, attention-getting lead that underscore the why/how elements of the news
  • Clarifies the news elements, i.e. timeliness, nearness, impact and prominence
  • Clarifies through research the background necessary to understand current news
  • Develops an understanding of the issues/problems through interviews with varied and balanced sources
  • Avoids personal opinion unless properly attributed
  • Sentences, paragraphs of varied length, written clearly, concisely and vividly
  • Effective use of facts/quotes from both primary and secondary sources
  • Proper diction/grammar; use of third person

As the search for a new superintendent for Bloomfield Hills Schools narrowed, Mr. Durecka, the West Hills principal, was advancing further and further. Last month, the new superintendent was announced, and even though Mr. Durecka wasn’t chosen, he will be staying at West Hills. “I’ve made that commitment, and I am not looking,” he said. “I’ve already had some people reach out to me saying, ‘You know if it doesn’t work out, I know of a superintendency … .’ But I’m not looking for a superintendency. I think that I can help our district, and this is the district that I feel most at home in. It’s where I live and I work, and I love working at West Hills. “I think it’s a great place, and with that said, I have no desire to move out of here,” he said. Applying for the superintendent job “was just a timing thing where I can help our community, and that’s what I was interested in.” A school superintendent is an administrator or manager in charge of a school district, overseeing all of its public schools. He or she is an employee of the Board of Education, which has the power to hire or fire the superintendent. The superintendent is also the person who decides if it is going to be a snow day. The previous superintendent announced his resignation on April 24. “It is with many mixed feelings that I share with you that I will be moving to New York at the end of this school year,” Dr. Rob Glass wrote in a letter to the community. After that, the district began the search for a new superintendent, finally finding one after five months. The search started off with 60 applicants. From there, the applicants sent in video interviews until the board members chose the final four candidates. After interviews at a board meeting, the search was narrowed down to two candidates: Mr. Durecka and Mr. Watson, who was principal of West Bloomfield High School. Three board members visited West Hills and West Bloomfield High School for half a day each. After that, Mr. Durecka and Mr. Watson went on a tour of all of the Bloomfield Hills schools, and then, both of them had “meet and greets” with people in our community. Finally, the board voted on who would be the next superintendent. Mr. Durecka has been a principal at West Hills for seven years and has been an administrator for 21 years in total. He decided to be an educator because he loved working with kids, and loved school growing up. However, Mr. Durecka didn’t apply for the superintendent position at first. “I had people say to me, ‘You might be a good candidate for superintendent,’” but I didn’t really take them seriously, because I haven’t been a central office person.” After people came to him, he thought about it for a long while. He was at a point in his career where he had 30 years of experience teaching and being an administrator, and he thought that a new challenge with new energy could be a nice change. However, he does enjoy being the principal. When asked if he would remain at WHMS, he said, “Absolutely.” Mr. Durecka was very proud of the West Hills students and staff during the visits from board members to the school. He thought that the students were able to present their work well for the board members. He also liked how when the board came to the school, the students were engaged in their learning, even later on in the day. Although Mr. Durecka was not selected as superintendent, he is very grateful for his experience. He said he believes that the interviews and the whole process leading up to the final selection will help him in the future by establishing relationships, and with being able to carry out long-term work. Mr. Durecka had some views on the future of the Bloomfield Hills school district, one of which was building a sense of belonging and cultivating goodness. “The humanity that we share is so important,” he said, “and sometimes in the world outside of the schoolhouse, and maybe in our community at times, reflects the place where we sort and we separate, and then we don’t look for the good in all of us. “And I think there is goodness in us,” he said. “We just have to cultivate it.”